By now most children are back in school getting accustom to a new grade and a new teacher. Most will make the adjustment without too many problems while others will struggle. What makes the difference and what can parents do to help?
It is hard to single out one reason for success in school, but parental supervision and involvement definitely has a positive effect on academic performance. Younger children especially, need a structured and supervised academic environment in order to develop habits that will serve them throughout their academic experiences and careers.
Organization is the first habit that must be developed and it is critical for children with attention problems. Help your child find an organization system that works. It could be anything from list making to a day-planner but the important thing is that they pick one they will use. Simpler is usually better.
Along with organization comes structure. Children should get in the habit of studying in the same place with plenty of storage for supplies. They should also try to study at the same time each day, preferably when they are rested and have had an afternoon snack. Limit distractions and set a timer if needed to signal short breaks.
Help your child get to know their teachers. Just taking a few minutes to introduce themselves to their teachers leaves a positive impression and may make it easier for the child to ask for help when they need it. Let the teacher know early if there are special accommodations your child needs.
Support their teachers discipline plan. I can't count the number of times I have seen parents rush to their child's defense, which takes them off the hook and undermines the teacher's influence and effectiveness with their child. Use good judgment. There may be times to discuss discipline with the teacher in private, but as a rule back them up. Your child doesn't need a defense attorney.
Start them off with a good breakfast which includes some lean protein. Most cereals are high-carbohydrate, high-sugar which lifts them up quickly and drops them. The brain needs protein to handle the stress load of the school day.
Have a bed time routine that helps them wind down. Research suggests 10 or 11 hours of sleep for growing children. T.V. and video games are high stimulation and should be limited and cut off two hours before bedtime. A warm bath, soft music and reading can help relax children.
Be reasonable with after school activities. Sports, dance, music lessons and other activities are a vital part of a child's life but they can be over done. With many sports requiring year round practices and some sports overlapping, children could conceivably be involved in something from the minute school lets out to bedtime or beyond. Add weekend games and there is little time for just having fun. Being too busy may lead to overall burnout and take the fun out of things.
Children are influenced most by their parents example. Be aware of your own habits and clean them up if needed. Are you watching too much T.V.? Try reading while your children are doing their homework. It will create a studious atmosphere and you will be available to help when needed.